My family and I did not have to go to Rome to see a pope. He came to us two times in the Philippines: in February 1981 for the canonization of the first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, and at the World Youth Day at the Luneta in January 1995 where more than 4 million people gathered to see him.
We saw him at close range near our house after he had visited Radio Veritas in Fairview in 1981. He was standing on the boarding steps of a Metro Manila bus smiling and waiving at the people excitedly cheering him along his route. We followed him at the University of Santo Tomas for the canonization of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz.
We saw him even at a closer range when his pope mobile arrived at the Luneta to celebrate the closing Mass of World Youth Day. One of my daughters was perched on my shoulders to get an unobstructed view of the pope. When we saw him for just a few precious seconds, even then we felt the saintliness of John Paul II and we were not surprised that he would be declared saint soon and within our lifetime. He died on April 2, 2005 and was canonized only nine years later, on April 27, 2014.
Saint John Paul II is well known for his love and devotion to our Blessed Mother. His motto: "Totus Tuus" tells this a lot. One can see this also in the way he chanted the Salve Regina:
When he was shot at St. Peter's Square in May 1981 there is a photo taken by someone showing our Lady holding the pope in her arms. The pope was critically wounded but the doctors found that all the bullets passed just past his vital internal organs. Our Lady had protected him.
After his recovery John Paul II visited the gunman in his prison cell and, following the Our Father's prayer "as we forgive those who sin against us", forgave him.
At his death bed his last words were: "Let me go to the Father's house."
St. John Paul II lived a life that could only make him say those last words. He loved the Father and served His Son and His Church throughout his life.
Are we ready to go to the house of the Father?
Yes, or not just yet?
Let us pray for it. Let us ask Saint John Paul II to help us pray for it.#
"In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?" John 14:2